On education, governments have one core role. It is not to produce East Anglia\’s answer to Cicero, or to finesse the next Bill Gates from a business-oriented NVQ. It\’s not even (desirable as that might be) to stuff the common rooms of Balliol with summa cum laude graduates of inner-city comprehensives.
Its duty is to provide all its citizens with a fine basic education. That is the only test that matters. After 11 years of Labour, it has still not been met.
Quite: as the man said, there\’s a role for the State in that basic education arena. The rest of it could be, as he suggested, left to the market perhaps?
Or if we\’re unwilling to have the State only involved in the primary school area, why not crack open the system to as much of the market as we can stand? Endow the universities (a billion each say, simply issue inflation proofed gilts to them. Makes no difference to the public finances as we\’re already on the hook for the NPV of their future subsidies) and set them free. Vouchers for everyone else.
As we\’re consitently told, other countries do education better than we do. As we\’re a great deal less often told they also do it with less money than we do in the main. It\’s not somuch how much money is spent, but how it\’s spent: more freedom to the consumer does indeed mean better service to said consumer.